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23 July 1998 Edition

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Editor's desk

Ten members of the Royal Artillery regiment of the British Army were convicted at Liverpool crown court last Friday of drug running.
The men were apprehended following an eighteen month investigation by customs officers. It is estimated that the gang had brought £12.5m worth of drugs, including heroin and ecstasy, into Britain since 1996. They used their military warrant cards to evade detection while bringing the drugs into England from Amsterdam on the cross channel ferry. They received between £3,000 and £5,000 for each drug-running trip.

And the Royal Artillery's regimental motto? Whither Right and Glory Lead Us. Yes, indeed.

Word reaches me that after the murder of the Quinn brothers in Ballymoney senior executives at Ulster Television held a meeting and decided to treat the next day's Orange marches strictly in terms of their news value. They covered the contentious marches and had none of the usual ``isn't this a wonderful folk festival'' guff.

Not so the BBC who treated us to the Walter and Clifford double act, just as they have in previous years. These two old boys really are back in the dark ages of television. The BBC received a flood of complaints but defended its decision on the basis that the ratings for the show were consistently high, which is rather ironic given the decision of their commercial rivals.

More interesting stories continue to emerge from the courts as a result of the Orange Drumcree protests.

Like the case of a 19 year old Co Derry man on his way to a protest in support of the Drumcree Orangemen was found to be in possession of a sling shot, balaclava and a bag of stones.

An RUC man told Derry Magistrates Court that Wesley David Dougherty of Edenreagh Road, Drumahoe, attempted to drive off when stopped on his 100cc motorcycle and in doing so brushed against an RUC man, knocking him over. Joey Dunlop he ain't.

As a result of the impact Dougherty fell off his bike leading to the search of his bag where a Barnett Cobra sling shot, a balaclava, a bag of stones and a helmet were found.

Defence solicitor, Ian Turkington, told the court Dougherty had been on his way to a peaceful protest in Newbuildings and intended to use the items in ``self defence'' and claimed that the accused regularly wore the balaclava under his helmet.

Dougherty was given a four month suspended prison sentence when he admitted possession of an offensive weapon and ammunition.

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